Opinion Former Article

NASUWT: Progress made on inequality being eroded by coalition

Inequality in educational provision is set to increase for ethnic minority pupils, a research report published today by the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, has found.

The savage cuts to local authority spending and the decision by the Coalition Government to end ring-fenced funding for the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant is having a major adverse impact on the help schools can give to ethnic minority pupils, the research has shown.

Well over a third (37%) of teachers and headteachers who responded to an NASUWT survey reported that resources for ethnic minority achievement and English as an additional language provision were dwindling in their area, with resources being increasingly diverted towards other activities.

Funding changes in September 2011 removed dedicated funding for the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant, incorporating the funding into the Dedicated School Grant. This ended the requirement for schools to spend this money solely on supporting the needs of ethnic minority pupils and students with English as an additional language. At a time of deep cuts to school and local authority budgets it was inevitable that schools would simply absorb this grant to try to make their budgets balance.

As a result, nearly a third (32%) of headteachers said support for these students has become more difficult to access over the last year. The outlook for the future remains gloomy with a significant number (46%) of teachers and headteachers believing that funding for these services will decline further in the coming years.

Nine per cent of those surveyed said that cost pressures have led to redundancies in their schools and 19% were aware of redundancies in neighbouring schools or in their local authority.

Half of headteachers said the pressure on schools to provide help to ethnic minority pupils has increased in the last year and 65% stated that current resources were insufficient to meet this need.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“This research shows that once again the casualties of the Coalition Government’s education reforms and austerity measures are the children and young people that need the most support.

“The NASUWT predicted that the funding changes, driven by a desire by the Department for Education to mask the level and impact of cuts to school and local authority budgets, would result in those who needed the support to address their needs losing it.

“The progress made in the last decade to address inequality is being rapidly eroded away.

“Despite the consequences being highlighted by the NASUWT at the time that the funding changes were proposed, Ministers chose to carry on regardless.

“The Coalition Government’s policies are producing a society deeply riven with inequality.”

Rob Berkeley, Director of race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust, said:

"This Government's inattention to persistent racial inequality makes a lie of the claim that 'we are all in this together'.

“The failure to protect the progress that schools, teachers and young people from minority ethnic communities have made over recent years risks leaving another generation of young black and Asian people unable to maximise their potential and their contribution to society.

“We urge the Department for Education to develop a strategy that ensures that young people from marginalised black and minority ethnic communities do not suffer unduly as a result of their reforms".



ENDS


Notes to editors

A copy of the report is attached.

The research involved detailed scrutiny of the decisions taken at local level, in a representative sample of local authorities, about the use of the Dedicated Schools Grant funding that had previously been designated as the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant prior to 2011/12.

Four local authorities were selected from five different categories. The categories used to determine the sample were: inner London borough, outer London borough, metropolitan authority, shire county and unitary authority. This was followed up by a survey of 147 school leaders which formed a representative sample of school leaders by school and local authority type.


Lena Davies
Journalist and acting press officer
Campaigns and Communications Team
NASUWT
0121 457 6250 / 07867 392 746
lena.davies@mail.nasuwt.org.uk

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